The Scope Of The Problem
While the negative effects of aging on mental performance have been part of the human experience seemingly forever, as with many other diseases and conditions both Alzheimer’s and Dementia seem to be getting more widespread. Whether this is because people are living longer, or because they are being systematically poisoned by our industrial foods, polluted environment, and artificial lifestyles, the outcome is the same – millions of people worldwide spend the last years of their lives in a drooling, hopeless fog.
Please don’t think I am cruel or heartless when I describe the last years of life this way. My wife and I have cared for three of our four parents in our home during their last years and we have first-hand experience with the terrible downsides of the deterioration of mind, body and spirit that aging people (and their families) must endure.
Update! Lisa Gonzalez has just sent me an excellent set of resources that she has complied for caregivers, which I include here with my thanks:
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 Million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and 500,000 die each year from causes linked directly to the disease, while 1 out of 3 people die of either Alzheimer’s or one of the other forms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s alone is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. In some ways an even more important stat is that 15.5 million Americans provide 17.7 Billions hours of unpaid care to their elderly family members with these Dementias. This statistic alone means that at a wage level of $10/hour, Alzheimer’s and related Dementias cost the United States $180 Billion in lost productivity – what these 15.5 million care-givers could theoretically make at a minimum wage job rather than caring for their elderly family member without compensation.
A few additional pieces of information before we get into the purpose of this blog post:
1. Almost 65% of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women
2. More than 60% of caregivers for Alzheimer’s and related Dementia victims are women
3. Women are 2.5 times more likely to be providing 24/7 unpaid care for an Alzheimer’s/Dementia victim than men
4. For a women in her 60s, her estimated lifetime risk for Alzheimer’s is 1 in 6, compared with 1 in 11 for breast cancer.
5. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of victims of Alzheimer’s/Dementia in the US alone will triple to nearly 50 million people.
Could There Really Be A Simple Solution?
The conservative answer is – probably not, but maybe.
The optimistic answer, based on what I have learned about the effects of Coca Leaf tea and tonics on mental function – almost certainly yes, at least to some degree.
I believe that Coca Leaf can provide at least a partial solution, and at least some relief from the steady, inexorable deterioration that is the hallmark of these horrendous plagues. Equally important, Coca Leaf can offer at least some relief for those who love those who suffer this terrible, and possibly avoidable fate, and are willing to dedicate their lives to caring for them.
Parenthetically, if you are a caretaker for a parent who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and if your family has the financial means to do so, why not consider taking your parent on a 30 day trip to a nice spa in either Peru or Bolivia, where Coca Leaf Tea is readily available and simply see if 6 cups a day might make a difference? If you do, please document the results and let me know so that I can share them on this blog. In a few months I plan to set up a CrowdSourcing campaign on either Indiegogo or KickStarter to raise funds to allow me to go to Peru and Bolivia and set up a network of participating spas, therapists, healers and physicians for families who could benefit from 30 days of CLT treatment, but in the meanwhile if you are caring for a loved one with the beginnings of this terrible condition and can afford the trip, please consider trying this approach.
OK – big claims here. What’s the evidence? For that we have to look at the research and writings of physicians and scientists from the 1800s who were working and healing people using Coca Leaf tea and tonics long before Alzheimer’s was a known diagnosis, but who were intimately familiar with the process of mental deterioration with age.
The following brief citations are just a small selection of the observations of many talented physicians and scientists writing primarily in the 1800s about their experiences in treating people for a wide range of diseases and conditions with Coca Leaf. If you would like to browse an extensive collection of these writings, along with an equally extensive bibliography that I’ve hyperlinked to original source materials from the 1700s and 1800s, you’ll probably find my ebook “The Coca leaf Papers” worth reading.
“Erythroxylon Coca: A Treatise On Brain Exhaustion As The Cause Of Disease”, By William Tibbles, MD (1877)
Case 3. In 1875, a lady aged 78 years was suffering from extreme debility with sickness, faintness, loss of memory, and fretfulness; her friends expected every hour her decease, but, to the surprise and wonder of her friends, after a month’s treatment with coca she was restored to her usual health and activity.
I have, with success, treated hundreds of cases of debility, of which the above are examples. In some cases I have used “cocaine”, the active principle of Erythroxylon coca. I can fully endorse the statements of the scientific gentlemen quoted in your article in respect to the efficacy of coca in prolonged exertion.
“An Essay On Erythrolylon Coca” (in) “A New Form Of Nervous Disease” By W.S. Searle, M.D. (1881)
Coca regulates and greatly assists in maintaining that equilibrium of action of the heart and capillary circulation, which is so necessary to the maintenance of an un-exhausted state of the body. The muscles brought into action during the performance of manual labour are frequently eager for a greatly increased supply of arterial blood. To supply this increased want of blood necessarily entails an increase of vaso-motor action; thus in persons who have to make a little extra muscular exertion, the capillary vessels will necessarily dilate excessively, and if the action of the heart does not correspondingly increase in frequency and force, the tension of the vessels will fall, and if, in such a case, the pulse be felt, the artery conveys the sensation of a double or rebounding pulse. If, on the other hand, the heart be working excitedly, as when an individual receives some exciting impressions during the time he is performing simple labour which does not require a great increase in the supply of blood to the muscles; or, in other words, while the muscles do not require a supply of blood much greater than on ordinary occasions, the tension of the arteries, or the force of the blood contained in them, may be greatly raised, and the amount of heart-work further increased in order to force the circulation of the blood at the increased speed.
Mental labour is frequently productive of such arterial tension – an exhausted Brain, whereby its influence over the heart’s action is diminished, will give rise to it; the diminution of nervous influence over the excretory organs whereby an increased amount of urea is produced and collected in the blood will give rise to it; as will also abnormal nutrition during exertion. These variations are abnormal and give rise to ill effects. In extremely low tension of the arterial and capillary vessels, the increased supply of blood to the muscles causes anemia of (being a deficiency of supply of blood to) the brain, and there is produced a feeling of fatigue, giddiness, or fainting. In this condition there is abnormal rise in the internal temperature. On the other hand, if the arterial tension be increased, then the strain will fall upon the heart, which will become overtaxed, dilated, and in some cases entire failure will be produced, either by over-distention and paralysis, or, by gradually increasing signs of dilatation, producing breathlessness, a sensation of lightness in the head, coldness of the extremities, pallor of face, anxious expression, and the temperature is abnormally decreased. These are the results of discordant action of the circulatory system, produced by exertion or excitement.
It may be asked, what has all this to do with the action of coca-leaf? Well, it is found by experiment that coca-leaf regulates the action of the heart and circulatory system and thereby nearly altogether preventing such results as above recorded as the consequence of muscular exertion or mental excitement.”
“An Essay On Erythrolylon Coca” (in) “A New Form Of Nervous Disease” By W.S. Searle, M.D. (1881)
Now to the question as to how and in what manner coca-leaf accomplishes the results which are consequent upon its use. It has been shown that all the various processes are under the influence and governance of the force conveyed through the medium of the brain, spinal cord, and their continuations – the nerves. Such being the case we may justly infer that Erythroxylon Coca influences the various functions by its action upon the great centres of the body; for it is only through these that a restorative action can be induced.
What I here want to show is that coca-leaf produces these results by imparting nerve food which is converted into nervous energy and thus increasing the total amount of nervous energy and consequent governing force. The functions of the nerves are only restored, when they have become exhausted by physical or mental toil or disease, till after rest etc., proportioned to the amount of exhaustion. And if it can be shown, as we have done, that coca-leaf is capable of either retarding or preventing the condition of exhaustion, and likewise of restoring an actually exhausted body; and if this can only be done by restoring the natural or normal condition of the brain and nervous system, then, we may fairly conclude that the results proved to be consequent upon the use of Erythroxylon coca are brought about simply and only by its imparting to that centre and diverging branches an amount of force which otherwise might only be obtained after partaking of rest and other things proportioned to the exhaustion.
It is evident, therefore, that the prevention of that vacillating action of the internal organs generally consequent upon exertion, and likewise that the restorative action in cases of physical or mental exhaustion and in disease, is due to this increase in the governing force of the nervous system.
Editor’s Note: Perhaps it isn’t so far-fetched to think that Coca Leaf tea could play an important role in treating Alzheimer’s when you consider the following two research studies on other natural medicinal plants. Neither of these studies deal with Coca, of course, but the fact that there appear to be multiple promising natural medicines from various parts of the world argues in a powerful way for testing of the potential of Coca for this purpose.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2014 Jun 24. pii: S0378-8741(14)00494-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.06.046. [Epub ahead of print]
Alzheimer׳s disease (AD) neuropathology is strongly associated with the activation of inflammatory pathways, and long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs reduces the risk of developing the disease. In S. Tomé e Príncipe (STP), several medicinal plants are used both for their positive effects in the nervous system (treatment of mental disorders, analgesics) and their anti-inflammatory properties. The goal of this study was to determine whether a phenotypic, cell-based screening approach can be applied to selected plants from STP (Voacanga africana, Tarenna nitiduloides, Sacosperma paniculatum, Psychotria principensis, Psychotria subobliqua) in order to identify natural compounds with multiple biological activities of interest for AD therapeutics.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Plant hydroethanolic extracts were prepared and tested in a panel of phenotypic screening assays that reflect multiple neurotoxicity pathways relevant to AD-oxytosis in hippocampal nerve cells, in vitro ischemia, intracellular amyloid toxicity, inhibition of microglial inflammation and nerve cell differentiation. HPLC fractions from the extract that performed the best in all of the assays were tested in the oxytosis assay, our primary screen, and the most protective fraction was analyzed by mass spectrometry. The predominant compound was purified, its identity confirmed by ESI mass spectrometry and NMR, and then tested in all of the screening assays to determine its efficacy.
An extract from the bark of Voacanga africana was more protective than any other plant extract in all of the assays (EC50s≤2.4µg/mL). The HPLC fraction from the extract that was most protective against oxytosis contained the alkaloid voacamine (MW=704.90) as the predominant compound. Purified voacamine was very protective at low doses in all of the assays (EC50s≤3.4µM).
These findings validate the use of our phenotypic screening, cell-based assays to identify potential compounds to treat AD from plant extracts with ethnopharmacological relevance. Our study identifies the alkaloid voacamine as a major compound in Voacanga africana with potent neuroprotective activities in these assays.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2014 Mar 28;152(3):403-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.12.053. Epub 2014 Jan 9.
The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease using Chinese medicinal plants: from disease models to potential clinical applications.